Water—the source of life, a vital part of our bodies, alterable, and yet always present. This most original of all elements is the basis of the performance that is shown in the film Jellyfish by Maryna Makarenko. Water’s indeterminable form and wealth of variants symbolize the existing gender fluidity of our society.
The markedly calm video imbued in blue light shows several persons moving about in a water basin, each at their own speed, repeatedly touching and harmoniously interacting with each other. The sound track features 25 different statements from interviews on the subjective experiences of perceiving one’s own gender, interwoven with atmospheric music. Due to the multifacetedness of these perceptions, the speakers implicitly demand that society should abandon binary gender categories, while also outlining the possible consequences of such an utopia.
In addition to the metaphorical and pictorial level that lets the notion and alteration of one’s gender appear just as natural and limitless as water, Makarenko also allows the viewers to experience its harmonious undulations on a technological level. Not only Lukas Grundmann’s atmospheric music underscores this flowing mood, but also the combination of picture and sound track. The effect is achieved not least by the fact that the two tracks are slightly offset. It is precisely at the points where image and sound approach each other that the demand to liberate oneself from existing categories comes clearly to the fore. These moments in which the performers almost synchronously repeat the voiceover statements show to what extent current recipients may perhaps lack openness.
The work Jellyfish was continued and further developed by the sound performance Tuning of the World. During and after the film presentation, sounds recorded by a hydrophone, sounds generated for scientific purposes, and live sounds of, with, and through water are com- bined to form an ambient soundscape. (Lena Hortian)
* We can only show an excerpt of this work in the online archive. For the complete version, please contact the artist.